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Notre Dame Researchers Study Community College Drop-outs

The University of Notre Dame ranked No. 18 in U.S. News and World Report's 2018 "Best Colleges" list released Tuesday. Here the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and Golden Dome at sunset in 2013.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are working on a program with community college students found those who receive mentorship support had a greater chance of completing an associates degree than those who didn’t.

For the ‘Stay the Course’ program Notre Dame partnered with Catholic Charities of Fort Worth, Texas to pair students with social workers to address the underlying causes of drop-outs.

Three randomly assigned groups of low-income, at-risk students received either emergency financial assistance and mentorship support from a social worker, only the money or were in a control group which got neither.

Students in the full support group were about 15 percent more likely to graduate in the three year period of the study and 25 percent more likely to still be actively working toward their degree. They also found that receiving only emergency financial assistance didn’t make a substantial difference in student’s graduation rates.

Study co-author Jim Sullivan says the next step is an expansion to more colleges to test the theory elsewhere.

“The key is, is this something that only works given the provider in Fort Worth, Texas and the population of Fort Worth, Texas? Or is this something that could have real substantive impact in communities across the country?”

Sullivan said they plan to start programs at eight or ten colleges in the fall.

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